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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

Tuition & Admission: Follow the Money

The Atlantic: "As admission rates have dropped, the cost of attendance has increased—a correlation seen at many highly selective schools. By 2025, the University of Chicago’s sticker price is predicted to pass the $100,000 mark, which would make it the first U.S. college where attendance costs six figures, according to a new analysis by The Hechinger Report, an education-news outlet. The analysis suggests at least a handful of other U.S. colleges will follow suit soon after Chicago hits that milestone, including California’s Harvey Mudd College, New York City’s Columbia University, and Texas’s Southern Methodist University. And after that, given the way American higher education has been going, it likely won’t be long before six-figure prices are common among selective colleges and universities."

"The University of Chicago’s sticker price is currently roughly $80,300. But as is the case across higher education, most of its students in reality pay far less than the sticker price. Students with a family income below $75,000 are paying roughly $5,200 on average to attend the university this year, The Hechinger Report’s analysis indicates (official data aren’t yet available). Even the wealthiest families—those that make at least $110,000—on average are paying just about half of the total attendance cost. Fewer than half—42 percent—of the university’s 6,300 or so undergraduates paid the sticker price in the 2016–17 school year, according to the most recent available net-cost data."

"The sticker price keeps growing because of increases to colleges’ operational costs. Elite colleges are spending more and more in their pursuit of prestige ... While the rising demand for fancy amenities could explain some of the increasing costs, personnel spending is, as The Atlantic contributor Amanda Ripley has reported, the biggest expenditure for many schools ... Esteemed professors are one asset that helps schools appeal to prospective students and climb in the rankings, as do smaller class sizes, extracurricular opportunities, and new buildings. Money spent on these things helps schools secure prestige, but it also raises costs."

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